Categorized | Middle East

DOROTHY ONLINE NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS

Dear All,

This evening’s message is rather long—6 items.  But as usual there are many more items that are not included.  Tonight is one of these times when it was truly difficult to decide what to include below, what to slip back into its folder.

Items 1, 2, and 3 are about the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and about the impact of Israel’s misdeeds on Palestinians.   I include these to keep you abreast of why being a Palestinian in Israel or in the OPT is very difficult.  None of us would wish to live their lives.

Item 4 is a repeat.  I originally transmitted it about July this year.  In the light of the new Who Profits study about Israeli banks being complicit in the Israeli occupation, colonization, and expansion (http://www.whoprofits.org/articlefiles/WhoProfits-IsraeliBanks2010.pdf)  Terry Crawford Browne’s article, ‘To end the occupation, cripple Israeli banks” seems even more an idea worthy of pursuing.  Anyone willing to try?

Item 5 is an additional (to the one that I sent yesterday) South African letter to the Cape Town Opera company attempting to convince it to boycott Israel rather to than perform in Israel.

Item 6 is also a boycott incentive, this time by Montreal activists to 2 Canadian universities to cut ties with the Technion, an Israeli university.

Lots of reading.  I know.  Just do your best.

Nite,

Dorothy

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1. From cpt_hebron cptheb@palnet.com

CPT Al Khalil (Hebron)

30/10/2010

Israeli military occupy Palestinian house

On Thursday 28th October, Israeli soldiers occupied a Palestinian house in the Baqa’a Valley, north east of Hebron. The house is located next to Route 60, across from the illegal settlement of Havot Harsina. It is the third time in less than two months that the house has been occupied.
 
When CPTers arrived they were met by 7 soldiers on the steps of the house, who refused to allow them to enter. Members of the family came out and told CPTers that their father had collapsed when he tried to prevent soldiers from entering. He had been taken to hospital by ambulance. A month ago, when the house was occupied for the second time, his wife had a heart attack and died later in hospital.

15 people live in the house, of whom five are minors under 16.A son told CPTers that there were a total of 17 soldiers in and around the house, and that military vehicles were positioned behind the house, invisible from the road.A spokesman for the occupation forces came out and told CPTers that they could not go into the house, where the third floor and roof of the house were being occupied. He added that the occupation would be for 48 hours. (CPTers have learned that the military occupied two more Palestinian houses in the vicinity: part of a security operation to protect Israeli visitors to Hebron commemorating the death and burial of Sarah).The house is strategically located, with views in all directions. There is no other obvious reason for the occupation.
 
A neighbor told CPTers that he had heard screams, cries and shots from the house and therefore called for an ambulance. The soldiers had fired tear gas before they entered the house 

When CPTers left, the military were installing floodlights, and had covered part of the roof with camourflage netting. The Israeli flag was flying from the roof-top.

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2  From Shadi Fadda’s “Today in Palestine” http://www.theheadlines.org/10/30-10-10.shtml

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Israeli crackdown on Palestinian youths in Silwan

By Ben Lynfield Ben Lynfield –

Fri Oct 29, 2010

http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20101029/wl_csm/339927

Jerusalem – Amid rising Israeli-Arab tensions, Israeli police are waging a crackdown on Palestinian youths – many not yet teenagers – in East Jerusalem’s most volatile neighborhood, Silwan.

In a recent incident, M., a slightly chubby 10-year-old with dark eyes, was harmed by a group of plainclothes forces who sprang out of an unmarked car and grabbed him off the street, according to his father’s account, which was backed up by other residents. (M.’s full name could not be used because of an Israeli law protecting juveniles.)

“There were five mistarabin,” M. recalls, referring to Israeli security forces who disguise themselves as Arabs. At a detention center he was questioned by someone who identified himself as Capt. Shadi, adds M. “He asked me, ‘Who throws stones?’ I told him I don’t know.”

The report of a local doctor, Fawzi Aasi, who treated M. after he was released from six hours in custody, said his knees were “bleeding from laceration” and elsewhere he was suffering from pain and swelling – which his father attributed to beating.

The Oct. 18 incident marked the fourth time M. has been arrested since February amid the Israeli police’s escalating battle with the youths of Silwan, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the East Jerusalem area captured by Israel in the 1967 war and then annexed – a move the international community views as illegal.

Since 1991, Silwan has been increasingly penetrated by Israeli Jews who believe it was once inhabited by the biblical King David, and thus view it as a Jewish patrimony.

Tensions are especially high now, after an Israeli security guard – one of numerous guards hired to protect the area’s several hundred Jewish residents – shot dead Palestinian resident Samir Sirhan in disputed circumstances three weeks ago. And on Oct. 24, municipality workers accompanied by police began handing out demolition orders against 22 homes as part of a municipal plan to create a biblically-themed archaeological park, The King’s Garden.

SPECIAL REPORT: How Israeli-Palestinian battle for Jerusalem plays out in one neighborhood

The safety situation for Jews living in the area is “undoubtedly the worst it has ever been,” says Udi Ragones, a spokesman for Jewish residents in Silwan, who sees more police force as the answer. During the past month, he says, there has been an incident of Palestinian stonethrowing or other violence every day. “Stones can kill,” he stresses.

But critics say that the police crackdown, combined with recent scuffles and demolition plans – as well as the municipality’s move this week to shut down a protest tent erected by residents – could cause Silwan’s simmering tensions to boil over.

“They are merely adding fuel to the fire that is spreading and threatening to engulf all of us in flames,” says Meir Margalit, a liberal member of the Jerusalem City Council. “Each day we are on the brink of a new intifada [uprising] that could start in Silwan or elsewhere.”

Youths arrested at home, on streetsCommunity leaders say that more than 100 youths have been arrested over the past month in Silwan, most of them under 13 years old. Police counter that only 40 people have been arrested throughout East Jerusalem during that time, “all directly involved in violence.” Many are teenagers who engage in violence on their way to or from school, the police say.

But the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) argued otherwise in a letter it sent to the Minister of Internal Security, Yitzhak Aharonvich of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, on Monday.

“From the complaints reaching us it should be emphasized that at least some of the arrests [by undercover forces] were carried out without any disturbance or stonethrowing beforehand and that the children were at the entrance to their homes or in the adjacent roads and alleys that serve as their playground.â€

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld disputes this, saying “all the arrests in Silwan have been made against suspects directly involved in disturbances and riots, attacking houses and security personnel. The police will continue to arrest anyone who breaks the law in Silwan.”

He said he had no knowledge of M.’s arrest and would check the matter but did not respond to a follow-up query in time for publication.

Interrogation without parentsAnother youth, who was recently arrested at 4 a.m. in his house, says he was handcuffed and taken to a police station.

“They started screaming in my face and banging on the table,” says the 13-year-old, wearing a black T-shirt and a baseball cap. “The interrogator asked me did you throw stones? I said no, but they insisted.”

Residents and human rights groups confirm arrests are sometimes conducted at 3 or 4 a.m., with a large force surrounding the child’s house.

“A disturbing picture arises of children being removed from their beds in the middle of the night and carted off to the police station in handcuffs without parents’ accompaniment,” the ACRI wrote in the same letter earlier this week. “The children report violent and frightening interrogations conducted by regular police officers and not by child and youth investigators.”

Attorney Nasreen Aliyan of ACRI says legally youths under 12 can be treated by police as witnesses but not suspects, and that the parents should be present. She adds that in many recent cases, parents are evicted from the interrogation room during questioning. “The law says you have to do it in the least harmful way, by inviting him with his family and having a specially trained officer do the questioning while the parents are present in the investigation.”

Security through fear?Community leaders and social workers accuse Israeli police of intentionally trying to instill fear in young people.

Four months ago, 15 police entered the youth wing of the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, which has computers and a library, and arrested a 14-year-old, according to Ahmad Karain, a staffer at the center. The boy was released after 48 hours.

“The police knew all the children were in the center. They want all the children to be afraid. After that no children came to the center for two weeks,” says Mr. Karain, who was himself shot in the foot by an Israeli settler last year and uses a walking stick.

“When I send my child to the market I’m always nervous about whether he will make it back to the house,” says Abed Shlode, a father of four and member of a committee to fight the home demolitions. “When they can’t catch stonethrowers, they take anyone from the street, just like they kidnapped M.,” the 10-year-old, he says.

M.’s father has two other sons in prison after being convicted of throwing stones at police, and his house also faces demolition. He says that after being arrested M. “wakes up a lot shouting at night. In school he is not studying. He cannot live normally. A 10-year-old in a police station alone. I+ suffer the pain. They have destroyed my child.”

It’s not just M.

Rawia Saba, a social worker at the Palestinian Center for Guidance in East Jerusalem, says many children are frightened. “They have nightmares, they wet their beds. They are always afraid when walking.”

In the view of Fakhri Abu Diab, a local resident active in the battle against house demolitions, the arrests are actually aimed at forcing parents out of Silwan, part of the city Israel claims as its “undivided and eternal capital.” 

“They want to scare the parent so he will give up and leave this area,” says Mr. Diab, whose own home is slated for demolition. “They want the land without the people.

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3.  The paragraph below is a summary.  For the full report click either on the English or Hebrew, depending on your language preference, or, if that doesn’t work, use the link

http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_protection_of_civilians_2010_10_29_english.pdf

 
Protection of Civilians Weekly Report | 20 – 26 October 2010

This week, 29 Palestinians injured by Israeli forces in the oPt; another six injured by settlers in the West Bank; three Palestinians killed and three others injured in tunnel related incidents and 26 injured in an explosion in Gaza. Also in the West Bank, settler violence continues unabated during olive harvest. Stop-work and eviction orders continue. In the Gaza Strip, limited construction materials for UN projects continue to enter. Fuel shortages continue; power cuts increase to 16 hours per day.

English | Hebrew

United Nations Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
P.O.Box 38712
Jerusalem
Tel:  02-5829962/5853
Fax: 02-5825841
email:ochaopt@un.org
www.ochaopt.org 

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4.  Sabbah Report

July 3, 2010

To end the occupation, cripple Israeli banks –

http://sabbah.biz/mt/archives/2010/07/03/end-occupation-cripple-israeli-banks/

by Terry Crawford-Browne

by Guest Post

The international banking sanctions campaign in New York against apartheid South Africa during the 1980s is regarded as the most effective strategy in bringing about a nonviolent end to the country’s apartheid system. The campaign culminated in President FW de Klerk’s announcement in February 1990, releasing Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners, and the beginning of constitutional negotiations towards a non-racial and democratic society.

If international civil society is serious about urgently ending Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights, including ending the occupation, then suspension of SWIFT transactions to and from Israeli banks offers an instrument to help bring about a peaceful resolution of an intractable conflict. With computerization, international banking technology has advanced dramatically in the subsequent 20 years since the South African anti-apartheid campaign.

Although access to New York banks remains essential for foreign exchange transactions because of the role of the dollar, interbank transfer instructions are conducted through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), which is based in Belgium. So, instead of New York — as in the period when sanctions were applied on South Africa– Belgium is now the pressure point.

SWIFT links 8,740 financial institutions in 209 countries. Without access to SWIFT and its interbank payment network, countries are unable either to pay for imports or to receive payment for exports. In short, no payment — no trade. Should it come to a point where trade sanctions are imposed on Israel, it may be able to evade them. Instead of chasing trade sanctions-busters and plugging loopholes, it is both faster and much more effective to suspend the payment system.

The Israeli government may consider itself to be militarily and diplomatically invincible, given support from the United States, and other governments, but Israel’s economy is exceptionally dependent upon international trade. It is thus very vulnerable to financial retaliation. South Africa’s apartheid government had also believed itself to be immune from foreign pressure.

Without SWIFT, Israel’s access to the international banking system would be crippled. Banking is the lifeblood of any economy. Without payment for imports or exports, the Israeli economy would quickly collapse. The matter has gained additional urgency with the bill now before the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, to penalize any person who promotes the imposition of boycotts against Israel. Another important political factor is that SWIFT is not only outside American jurisdiction, it is also beyond the reach of Israeli military retaliation.

Israel has long experience in sanctions-busting since the 1948 Arab boycotts. Apartheid South Africa was also well experienced in sanctions-busting — breaking oil embargoes was almost a “national sport.” Trade sanctions are invariably full of loopholes. Profiteering opportunities abound, as illustrated by Iraq, Cuba and numerous countries against which for many years the United States unsuccessfully has applied trade sanctions. Iran conducts its trade through Dubai, which happily profits from the political impasse.

Suspension of bank payments plugs such loopholes, and also alters the balance of power so that meaningful negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians become even possible. This is because banking sanctions impact quickly upon financial elites who have the clout to pressure governments to concede political change. Trade sanctions, by contrast, impact hardest on the poor or lower-paid workers, who have virtually no political influence.

SWIFT will, however, only take action against Israeli banks if ordered to do so by a Belgian court, and then only in very exceptional circumstances. Such very exceptional circumstances are now well-documented by the UN-commissioned Goldstone report into Israel’s winter 2008-09 invasion and massacre in Gaza and by the attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on 31 May 2010. There is also a huge body of literature from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other organizations detailing Israeli war crimes and violations of humanitarian law.

The Israeli government, like that of apartheid South Africa, has become a menace to the international community. Corruption and abuses of human rights are invariably interconnected. Israel’s long military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, for example, has corrupted almost every aspect of Israeli society, most especially its economy. The Organization For Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported in December 2009 that the Israeli government lacks commitment in tackling international corruption and money laundering.

The international financial system is exceedingly sensitive about allegations of money laundering, but also to any associations with human rights abuses. Organized crime and money laundering are major international security threats, as illustrated by the United States subpoena after the 11 September 2001 attacks of SWIFT data to track terrorist financing. The website Who Profits? (www.whoprofits.org) lists hundreds of international and Israeli companies that illegally profiteer from the occupation.

Their operations range from construction of the “apartheid wall” and settlements to agricultural produce grown on confiscated Palestinian land. As examples, Caterpillar, Volvo and Hyundai supply bulldozing equipment to demolish Palestinian homes. British supermarkets sell fresh produce grown in the West Bank, but illegally labelled as Israeli. Ahava markets Dead Sea mud and cosmetics.

The notorious Lev Leviev claims in Dubai that Leviev diamonds are of African origin, and are cut and polished in the United States rather than Israel. They are sourced from Angola, Namibia and also allegedly Zimbabwe, and can rightly be described as “blood diamonds.” Israeli diamond exports in 2008 were worth $19.4 billion, and accounted for almost 35 percent of Israeli exports. Industrial grade diamonds are essential to Israel’s armaments industry, and its provision of surveillance equipment to the world’s most unsavory dictatorships. Such profiteering depends on foreign exchange and access to the international payments system. Hence interbank transfers are essential, and SWIFT — willingly or unwillingly — has become complicit, as were the New York banks with apartheid South Africa.

Accordingly, a credible civil society organization amongst the Palestinian diaspora should lead the SWIFT sanctions campaign against Israeli banks. And, per the South African experience, it should be led by civil society rather than rely on governments.

Each bank has an eight letter SWIFT code that identifies both the bank and its country of domicile. “IL” are the fifth and sixth letters in SWIFT codes that identify Israel. The four major Israeli banks and their SWIFT codes are Israel Discount Bank (IDBILIT), Bank Hapoalim (POALILIT), Bank Leumi (LUMIILIT) and Bank of Israel (ISRAILIJ).

Such a suspension would not affect domestic banking transactions within Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip — or international transfers to Palestinian banks that have separate “PS” identities. The campaign can be reversed as soon as the objectives have been achieved, and without long-term economic damage.

What is required is an urgent application in a Belgian court ordering SWIFT to reprogram its computers to suspend all transactions to and from Israeli banks until the Israeli government agrees to end the occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and that it will dismantle the “apartheid wall;” the Israeli government recognizes the fundamental rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and Israel recognizes, respects and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees.

* The writer is a retired banker, who advised the South African Council of Churches on the banking sanctions campaign against apartheid South Africa. He spent October 2009 to January 2010 in East Jerusalem monitoring checkpoints, house demolitions and evictions, and liaising with Israeli peace groups. He lives in Cape Town.

Source: EI

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5. Cape Town Opera: Don’t help Israel whitewash its crimes

open letter, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, 29 October 2010

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11597.shtml

The following open letter to the Cape Town Opera was issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel on

25 October 2010:

Dear members of the Cape Town Opera,

We at the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), have recently learned of your scheduled performance in Israel on 12 November 2010. As you may know, in 2004, inspired by the triumphant cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa, and supported by key Palestinian unions and cultural groups, PACBI issued a call for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel (“Call for academic and cultural boycott of Israel”). We wish, in our letter to you, to stress the importance of this Palestinian call, and underscore the reasons for the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. We trust you will listen as we take our cue from your struggles and experiences in South Africa against oppression and injustice.

The 2004 Palestinian call for academic and cultural boycott of Israel appealed to international artists to refuse to perform in Israel or participate in events that serve to equate the occupier and the occupied and thus promote the continuation of injustice (“Palestinian civil society call”). Following this, in 2005, Palestinian civil society called for an all-encompassing boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign based on the principles of human rights, justice, freedom and equality . The BDS movement is asking artists to heed our call until “Israel withdraws from all the lands occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem; removes all its colonies in those lands; agrees to United Nations resolutions relevant to the restitution of Palestinian refugees rights; and dismantles its system of apartheid” (see “About the campaign”). In light of our call, your upcoming performance would violate the appeal of the Palestinian BDS movement which urges people of conscience throughout the world to isolate Israel until it ends its colonial and apartheid oppression of the Palestinian people, as was done to the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Your performance is especially disturbing considering the history of the “Porgy and Bess” production. In one of its initial tours in Washington, DC in 1936, the opera singer and actor Todd Duncan “led the cast in an ultimately successful protest against the National Theatre’s segregation policy, resulting in the first time an integrated audience attended a performance at the National Theatre” (“Cape Town’s Porgy and Bess opens the Israeli opera season,” Midnight East blog, 20 October 2010). Ironically, this rich history will be lost on your audience as neither the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, nor the Palestinian refugees in the Diaspora will be allowed to attend your show.

Important, too, is the very nature of this opera as carrying a social and political message, whether it is racial, as some critics claim, or a reminder of policies of segregation. Such a message is further evidence that opera, and culture more broadly, do not rise above politics but are deeply embedded within it. That the subject of your opera carries political overtones should alert you to the fact that performing it in Israel, in this climate of persistent oppression and racist subjugation, would effectively serve to cover up Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians. Some of Israel ‘s violations of international law and Palestinian rights that you would be turning a blind eye to are:

•Its brutal and unlawful military occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza Strip. Israel restricts Palestinians’ freedom of movement and of speech; blocks access to lands, health care, and education; imprisons Palestinian leaders and human rights activists without charge or trial; and inflicts, on a daily basis, humiliation and violence at the more than 600 military checkpoints and roadblocks strangling the West Bank. All the while, Israel continues to build its illegal wall on Palestinian land and to support the ever-expanding network of illegal, Jewish-only settlements that divide the West Bank into Bantustans.

•Its growing system of apartheid towards the Palestinian citizens of Israel, with laws and policies that deny Palestinian citizens the rights that their Jewish counterparts enjoy. These laws and policies affect education, land ownership, housing, employment, marriage and all other aspects of people’s daily lives.

•Its denial of the internationally-recognized right of return for Palestinian refugees who were ethnically cleansed in 1948 in the process of forming an exclusivist Jewish state. Israel also continues to expel people from their homes in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev). Today, there are more than 7 million refugees, still struggling for their right to return to their homes, like all refugees around the world.

•Its illegal and criminal siege of Gaza. As part of this siege, Israel has prevented not only various types of medicines, candles, books, crayons, clothing, shoes, blankets, pasta, tea, coffee and chocolate, but also musical instruments from reaching the 1.5 million Palestinians incarcerated in the world’s largest open-air prison.

Can you entertain such a state with a clear conscience?

Israel uses artists, musicians and other cultural workers as part of a campaign to Brand Israel, a campaign that has been launched by the Israeli government and promoted by institutions throughout the country and abroad in order to whitewash Israel’s violations of international law and project a false image of normalcy. But after Israel’s war of aggression against Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009, which left 1,400 Palestinians dead, predominantly civilians, and led the UN Goldstone report to declare that Israel had committed war crimes, and after the flotilla massacre, many international artists have refused to conduct business as usual with a country that places itself above international standards. Elvis Costello, Gil Scott Heron, Carlos Santana, Devendra Banhart and the Pixies are but a few of the artists who have refused to perform in Israel in the past year. In his decision not to play, Devendra Banhart said:

“Unfortunately, we tried to make it clear that we were coming to share a human and not a political message but it seems that we are being used to support views that are not our own” (“Folk singer Devendra Banhart cancels Israel shows,” Ynet, 16 June 2010).

The call for BDS has also been supported by prominent and devoted anti-racist activists around the world, from South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu to best-selling African-American author Alice Walker. Your own Archbishop Tutu recently noted in a historic statement unequivocally supporting the Palestinian boycott campaign against Israel:

“I never tire of speaking about the very deep distress in my visits to the Holy Land; they remind me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like we did when young white police officers prevented us from moving about. My heart aches. I say, ‘Why are our memories so short?’ Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their own previous humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon? … When we say ‘Never again!’ do we mean ‘Never again!’ or do we mean ‘Never again to us!’?” (“Israeli ties: a chance to do the right thing,” The Times, 26 September 2010).

If you remain unconvinced because of claims that a cultural boycott of Israel may infringe on freedom of expression and cultural exchange, then we recall for you the judicious words of Enuga S. Reddy, director of the United Nations Center against Apartheid, who in 1984 responded to a similar criticism voiced against the cultural boycott of South Africa by saying:

“It is rather strange, to say the least, that the South African regime which denies all freedoms … to the African majority … should become a defender of the freedom of artists and sportsmen of the world. We have a list of people who have performed in South Africa because of ignorance of the situation or the lure of money or unconcern over racism. They need to be persuaded to stop entertaining apartheid, to stop profiting from apartheid money and to stop serving the propaganda purposes of the apartheid regime” (see 12 Positions on Cultural Sanctions,” Theatre Communications Group).

We understand that your director, Angelo Gobbato, continued to defy the anti-apartheid boycotts, believing that there was another way. But you know now the effectiveness of your own boycott movements and the need for international solidarity. It is your solidarity with the Palestinian people against Israel’s repression that we ask for now. We hope you will grant us that.

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6. The Electronic Intifada,

27 October 2010

Montreal activists launch campus boycott campaign

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11593.shtml

Jillian Kestler-D’Amours,

As a boycott, divestment and sanctions conference was convened in Montreal last week, activists launched a boycott campaign at two city universities. A group of students, professors and staff from Concordia and McGill universities are calling on the schools cut ties with the Israeli Institute of Technology, more commonly referred to as Technion University.

A report compiled by the group says that the links between Concordia, McGill and Technion universities “serve to normalize the Israeli state’s policies of institutionalized oppression and should be of serious concern to students, faculty and all members of McGill and Concordia’s campus community.”

The 13-page report, entitled “Structures of Oppression: Why McGill and Concordia’s campus community must sever their links with the Technion University” [PDF], examines Technion’s links to military technologies and manufacturers and the militarization and repression of political dissent on the Israeli university’s campus. The report also details the nature of Concordia and McGill universities’ relationships with the Israeli institution.

Based primarily on news articles, websites of Israeli weapons and military technology manufacturers, Technion press releases and reports written by human rights organizations, the report highlights “Technion University’s involvement in the development of deadly military technologies and the intense militarization of an academic institution which directly and indirectly denies Palestinian citizens of Israel the same access to education as other students.”

“Technion is complicit in the violations of international law and human rights abuses committed by the Israeli military against Palestinians by providing new military technologies to defense manufacturers,” the report stated.

Technion University

Founded in 1924 in Haifa, Technion University is a science and technology research-focused university that today enrolls approximately 12,600 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students.

The university boasts on its website that “Technion graduates comprise the majority of Israeli-educated scientists and engineers, constituting over 70 percent of the country’s founders and managers of high-tech industries. 

Technion University also prides itself on its deep and far-reaching links to Israeli military technology manufacturers and to the Israeli military itself.

According to a report released by the Alternative Information Center in October 2009, titled “Academic Boycott of Israel and the Complicity of Israeli Academic Institutions in Occupation of Palestinian Territories,” Technion University “has all but enlisted itself in the military.”

“The extent of cooperation between the Technion and Israeli military was demonstrated when the Technion opened a center for the development of electro-optics in complete partnership with Elbit, one of the biggest Israeli private weapons’ research companies which is also heavily involved in development for the Israeli military,” according to the AIC.

AIC reports that Technion University’s technological programs are directly linked to the many human rights abuses perpetrated by the Israeli army:

“The [Technion] students and professors who are working in these co-op programs are directly participating in the research, manufacturing and upgrading of weaponry of which the vast majority is used in the [Israeli] occupation, as well as acts of aggression like the 2008 attacks in Gaza which resulted in over 1,400 mostly civilian deaths.”

“But what most people don’t realize is how this militarization effects Palestinian students who are citizens of Israel; many programs are off limits to these students for not having (nor wanting) the military experience and security clearance required,” the report adds.

Institutional racism in Israeli academia

In the “Structures of Oppression” report by the Montreal campus activists, researchers outline Technion’s connection to Elbit Systems Ltd., which is “‘one of two main providers of the electronic detection fence’ in the West Bank, deemed to violate international law by the International Court of Justice.” In July 2004, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion stating that Israel’s construction of a wall on occupied West Bank land was contrary to international law.

The Montreal activists’ report specifies that Elbit “also provides the Israeli army with unmanned aerial and ground vehicles that are routinely used in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

Technion University’ connections to Rafael Advanced System Ltd., one of Israel’s largest military technologies companies, are also exposed in the report.

“Rafael technologies were … reportedly used in indiscriminate attacks on civilians during the Israeli offensive into Gaza in December 2008/January 2009. Spike-MR (medium range) missiles — built by Rafael — were used in attacks launched by unmanned combat aerial vehicles that killed at least 29 civilians,” the report states.

Today, while Palestinians make up 20 percent of the citizens of Israel, they are only 9.5 percent of undergraduate students. Less than 5 percent reach the MA degree level, only 3.2 percent earn a PhD, and only 1 percent of university staff is Palestinian.

According to “Structures of Oppression,” “these statistics are indicative of discrimination and the persistence of institutional racism against Palestinian Israelis in the academic realm.”

In addition, the report states that Arab students at Technion University “are prevented from practicing their basic rights of expression and from forming an Arab students union, for the freedom of speech right is limited to those who support the Israeli state project.”

During a police-approved demonstration earlier this year against the 31 May Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, ten Palestinian Technion students were arrested while a right-wing counter-protest — which was not approved in advance by the university — went ahead without problems or arrests.

The report also outlines Technion University policies and programs that unfairly favor Israeli Jewish students over their Palestinian counterparts, including the Brakim academic reserve program.

The Brakim program gives 15 students the chance to complete bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in four years.

“According to a brochure released by the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, the ‘Brakim program [was] initiated to meet the request of the IDF [Israeli army] to create an elite group of mechanical engineers to become the future [research and development] leaders in [the] IDF,'” the report states.

The report adds, “an academic institution that not only places a major amount of its efforts in military technology, but also in promoting student/soldier cooperative programs, is therefore deeply implicated in the occupation and crimes committed by the military.”

Cutting off ties

Concordia University currently maintains a program called the Goldie and Joe Raymer Fellowship that enables “alternating yearlong visits for students between Concordia and the Technion” and covers students’ airfare, tuition and housing costs.

For its part, McGill University lists Technion as a partner institution in its student exchange program, and allocates two spots each year for students to study at the Israeli institution.

According to the authors of the report, these programs serve as a way to legitimize Technion’s complicity in human rights violations, just like the role North American universities had in maintaining the status quo did during the time of South African apartheid.

“There’s no question, North American universities that maintained institutional links to South African universities during the apartheid era were indirectly legitimizing institutions that openly oppressed a major section of the indigenous population. Israel is no different,” the report states.

The authors explain that this is why it is so crucial for McGill and Concordia to severe their ties to Technion University.

“So long as Concordia and McGill keep [these] institutional links, they are helping normalize a university which openly and flagrantly violates the human rights of the Palestinian people, whether in the Occupied Territories or [as] citizens of Israel, as well as people who openly speak out about against these policies. McGill and Concordia have to come clean and cancel these programs until the state of Israel complies with international law and basic human rights, as stipulated by the three demands of the [boycott, divestment and sanctions] movement.”

Originally from Montreal, Jillian Kestler-D’Amours is a reporter and documentary filmmaker based in occupied East Jerusalem. More of her work can be found at http://jilldamours.wordpress.com.

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